Home cooking for dogs: beginner’s guide (+ recipes)

Dogs have a keen sense of taste and can be picky eaters. What should you do? Should you cook your dog's food? Learn everything about home cooking for dogs.
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My dogs had faced no severe health issues until recently. Then, Buddy, my border collie, fell gravely ill, and that was because of some digestive disorder.

The vet told me that unless I feed him something organic, fresh, and fun to eat, the problem will keep my dog ill and weak. 

And that was when I realized, even after keeping dogs for more than 10 years; I was a novice in home cooking for dogs

That day I watched videos, read blogs, and consulted books to know more about home cooking for dogs. And I finally started cooking.

So now I am writing this article for my fellow dog owners who are in need of similar help.

So, take a back seat and enjoy the reading. I am going to share exciting details on home cooking for dogs with delicious, easy-to-make, and hassle-free recipes.  

4 Reasons You Should Cook Your Dog’s Food

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Following are the reasons why you should prepare home-cooked dog food:

#1 Feeding a Dog Is No More Difficult Than Feeding a Child

The first reason why you should consider home cooking for dogs is because it is really simple. It is no different from feeding a child. 

You don’t have to be precise with milligrams of calcium and vitamins, and carbs. You just have to use natural and fresh ingredients. And they have all the required nutrition in them. 

You only have to make a list of foods that you are going to serve your dog. And this list of foods should be diverse. 

You have to balance between meat, veggies, chicken, grains, or any other food item that your dog loves to eat. 

#2 Home Cooking for Dogs Allows You to Have Complete Control Over The Details

Many dogs are picky eaters. They don’t like everything that you serve them. And as a matter of fact, they don’t like precooked foods. Most dog foods available at the supermarket may not be the best for your dog. Some may have more salt. Others might have more proteins. 

Some brands might add one particular ingredient in each of their packaged foods that your dog really hates. And you are tired of finding and searching for good dog foods. 

Well, in that case, home cooking for dogs is just your thing. With home cooking, you can customize every meal your dog eats. 

You can experiment with what your dog likes and what it doesn’t. And this way, you can ensure that whatever you are putting on his plate, he will eat all of it. 

So there would be no dog food waste anymore. 

#3 You Can Afford to Be Completely Organic.

With home cooking for dogs, you have complete control over all the ingredients. That way, you can stay completely organic all the time. 

In addition, the food that you are preparing for your dog would be without preservatives and without any other agent to increase its shelf life.

#4 Bond Building With Your Dog

Home cooking for dogs allows you to build a strong bond. When you cook for your dog, you can let your cute little friend sit alongside you in the kitchen, and you can talk and let it know what you are cooking. 

It can be your new Sunday activity where you first go out to shop and later cook the food together. It would earn you the love of your dog. 

The Basics: What Nutrition Guidelines Should You Follow When Preparing Home-cooked Dog Food?

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Following are the nutrition guidelines you should follow while doing home cooking for dogs.

Home Cooking for Dogs – Nutrition Guidelines
Protein40 percent
Carbohydrates30 – 70 percent
Vegetables50 percent

#1 Protein

Protein is an essential component that can not be skipped from dog food. No dog food can be complete and balanced without proteins. Dogs need 40 percent of protein in their diet. The best sources of protein for your dog include:

  1. Chicken
  2. Turkey
  3. Duck
  4. Pork
  5. Beef
  6. Fish 

You can also choose to use certain organs as a protein source:

  1. Hearts
  2. Livers
  3. Kidneys
  4. Lungs

#2 Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates make anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of dog food. Therefore, every dog meal is incomplete without sufficient carbohydrates in it. 

Carbohydrates serve the most important function in dog food. 

They provide energy. The energy is provided in the form of sugar. Sugars are broken down to release energy. It is then absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Carbs are required by every cell of your dog. They provide energy to keep the brain and nervous system going. Hence, a deficiency of carbohydrates can be fatal. 

On the other hand, an excess would be stored as fat, and it is the prime cause of obesity in dogs. 

The major sources of carbohydrates are:

  1. Barley
  2. Brown rice
  3. Oats
  4. Corn
  5. Millet
  6. Potatoes 

#3 Vegetables

Almost 50 percent of your dog’s food should consist of vegetables. Dogs need to be fed healthy, and there is nothing healthier than vegetables. 

Veggies provide many dietary benefits. They are rich in fiber, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins. They provide essential nutrients that are absent in meat. 

Veggies not only serve the purpose of a healthy dog meal. You can also feed them to your dog as a snack. Just remember to cut them down into small pieces so that your dog might not choke while eating. 

The best and the easiest way to prepare veggies is to blanch them in hot water. Blanching means cooking without a color. 

This way, the natural nutrients are preserved. You can alternatively steam them for a few minutes until they are soft. And yet another method that might be good for some vegetables is to purée them. 

There are several vegetables that your dog would become accustomed to. Here some dog-friendly vegetables:

  1. Kale
  2. Spinach
  3. Carrots
  4. Green Beans
  5. Broccoli
  6. Beetroot
  7. Celery
  8. Cucumber
  9. Sweet Potato
  10. Butternut Squash

#4 Calcium

Dogs need calcium for healthy and balanced growth. A sufficient amount of calcium in the diet will let dogs stay stronger with healthier teeth, bones, jaws, nails, and coats. 

Adult dogs require at least 1.25 milligrams of calcium per every 1000 kilocalories. The calculation might change depending on the weight and size of the dog. 

Many of the sources of calcium are the same for humans and dogs. During growth, a steady supply of calcium is necessary for your dog, as it helps in skeletal mineralization. 

Best calcium sources for dogs include:

  1. Yogurt
  2. Cheese
  3. Fish
  4. Chicken

Other than that, there are various vegetable sources that can fulfill your dog’s calcium requirements. These are:

  1. Acorn Squash
  2. Arugula
  3. Bok Choy
  4. Broccoli
  5. Chard
  6. Chicory
  7. Collard greens
  8. Corn
  9. Dandelion
  10. Kale
  11. Mustard Greens
  12. Spinach 
  13. Turnips

Common Mistakes When Cooking for Your Dog

Best Dog Food for Dogs with Allergies in 2021 to Beat Hypersensitivity - hypoallergenic dog food - Home Cooking for Dogs - Nutrition Guidelines – home cooking for dogs

There are many common mistakes that most people do who are new to the concept of home cooking for dogs. 

The first issue concerns meat. If you are giving meat to your dog, you have to be very careful about one thing. That is, the meat must always be properly cooked. 

The second thing that you have to be watchful about is the toxic ingredients. Always avoid ingredients that can be toxic for your dogs. Most newbies to home cooking for dogs don’t know what ingredients can be toxic. 

Toxic ingredients that are commonly known include:

  1. Grapes
  2. Raisins
  3. Garlic
  4. Onion
  5. Peanut Butter
  6. Macadamia nuts

The use of these ingredients in preparing dog food must be avoided. 

Adding toxics is one thing, while omitting beneficial nutrients is another. If you mistakenly added any toxic ingredient, your dog might fall ill immediately because of that toxic ingredient. 

But if you are not adding the required nutrients to your dog’s food, you might not even know about it until it’s very late. 

It is necessary that the dog food must contain all the required ingredients. It becomes all the more important if you serve the same food for days. Because that way, the dog would become deficient in the required nutrients in no time. 

Lastly, be gentle when you are changing the food. When one food is changed to another, it has been observed that your dog has a chance to develop digestive issues. So, you need to avoid abrupt changes. 

If you take care of three or four don’ts, you are prepared on the DIY journey of home cooking for dogs. 

Dietary Supplements for Home-fed Dogs

Home cooking for dogs has a catch as well. When you are cooking dog food at home, it is possible that you might be missing important dog nutrients. 

Dogs need vitamins and organic compounds for a balanced diet. 

Dogs cannot produce vitamins and minerals on their own. These are essential for the growth of your dog. Dogs have to consume these essential vitamins and minerals through their food. 

If the food that they are consuming does not have these essential nutrients, it is definite that they would develop a severe deficiency. 

Because of this reason, owners who do home cooking for dogs have an interest in using dietary supplements. 

There are many supplements available in the market. Choose what you like, and you can put it in your dog’s food.

Ingredients to Use in Homemade Dog Food

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Home cooking for dogs is really easy and enjoyable. For cooking dog food, you need exactly the same ingredients that you would otherwise use to prepare food for humans.  The ingredients to be used depend on what nutrients a dog needs. 

It is common knowledge that dog food should be rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, and calcium. Other necessary vitamins and minerals should also be obtained from a healthy diet. 

The most important ingredient is some kind of protein. There are many sources of proteins available, and you can use any of them based on availability. 

For example, beef mince or beef stripes, turkey, chicken, fish such as tuna, mackerel or herring, lima or kidney beans, and eggs serve as great protein sources for dogs. 

Only one protein source can serve the purpose of fulfilling the protein needs of your dog. A combination can also be used.

It is desirable if you change the source once in a while. 

The second most important ingredient is the vegetables that dogs need to eat. There are some vegetables that are safe to be included in dog food. These include: 

  • Carrots, 
  • Green beans, 
  • Broccoli, 
  • Cauliflower, 
  • Spinach, 
  • Peas, 
  • Celery, 
  • Cucumbers,
  • Pumpkins. 

The third most necessary ingredient is carbs. Your dog needs carbs as they provide energy. A diet rich in carbs would keep your dog healthy, active, and energetic.

Good carb sources are brown rice, cooked potatoes, pasta without salt and oil, oatmeal, and yams. 

Ingredients to Avoid

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It is a misconception that dogs can eat everything. Pet dogs are sensitive creatures, and their digestive systems cannot take everything fed to them. 

There are certain ingredients that are absolutely forbidden to be included in any dog food. 

The list of ingredients that you should always avoid includes: 

  • Chocolates, 
  • Onions, 
  • Raisins, 
  • Avocados, 
  • Grapes, 
  • Walnuts, 
  • Coffee, 
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Spices such as cayenne, curry, paprika. 

There is a good reason to avoid these ingredients. It is because:

  • Grapes, raisins, and currants cause kidney damage in dogs.
  • Aromatics such as onion, garlic, and onion or garlic chives attack your dog’s blood cells. As a result, the lower iron levels can cause anemia. 
  • The seeds in persimmons. Peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries cause severe inflammation in your dog’s small intestine. 
  • If eaten by your dog, wild mushrooms can lead to wheezing, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as slowing the heartbeat. 
  • Some vegetables, such as rhubarbs, contain oxalate, and consuming them can damage your dog’s nervous system, digestive tract, and kidneys. 

Alternative to Home Cooking for Dogs

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If you are fed up using dry dog food and cannot take out time or don’t trust yourself with your dog’s health, I have found an excellent alternative for you.

It is easy to understand why you do not prefer dry dog food. Your dog may be a picky eater. It is quite possible that he is suffering from some digestive disorder, and there is an immediate need to change what he is eating.

I also understand that being a dog owner, you are also a busy professional, and you cannot take home cooking for dogs on your own. 

Whatever may be your reason, I bring a perfect alternative for you. 

Myollie.com: Healthier, Custom Human-Grade Dog Food Delivery

turkey - Ollie Dog Food Review

Ollie prepares high-quality dog food that is delivered right to your doorstep. It solves many problems. 

First of all, it takes the burden off your shoulders. You just have to pick up a plan, and Ollie will prepare the food itself and deliver it to you.

The burden of going to the supermarket and shopping for dog food would end. 

The most important benefit is that your dog is eating healthy with all the required nutrients included in the food. Experts prepare food at Ollie, and no essential nutrients are missed. 

The dog food at Ollie is custom designed. 

  1. First, you introduce your dog to them. 
  2. They take note of the age, weight, breed, nutrition requirements, and allergies. 
  3. Then they design a plan customized according to the needs and requirements of your dog. 
  4. Finally, they deliver the food on a flexible, regular schedule. 

Easy Homemade Dog Food Recipes

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Recipe 1


  1. 1 portion of proteins (beef/chicken)
  2. 1 portion mix vegetables (carrot/cabbage/green beans)
  3. 1 portion carbs (rice)       


  • For this recipe, you can use any protein of your choice. Beef or chicken works fine. You can use a combination as well. 
  • First of all, take a pot and add water to it. Use enough water to cook the protein. 
  • Next, boil the protein thoroughly until it’s tender, chewable, and digestible for your dog. 
  • Finally, dice them into small pieces, and remember that there should not be any bone, or the dogs might choke on it.
  • Next, take vegetables in another pot. Cook them in hot water until they are softened. This step is known as blanching. Now finally dice the veggies. 
  • Next, take rice and boil them until they are soft. 
  • Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and your dog food is ready. 

Recipe 2


  1. 1 portion of protein (chicken)         
  2. 1 portion mix vegetables (zucchini/carrot/peas/spinach)
  3. 1 portion carbs (brown rice)


  • Take a pot and add water to it. Put your chicken into the water and poach it over a rolling boil until it is tender. Take it out and let it cool. Shred-it into small pieces in a food processor and set it aside. 
  • Boil carrots and peas until they are soft. Dice them into small pieces and set them aside. Blanch the spinach while keeping its color intact and take it out in cold water. Dice the zucchini as well into small pieces. 
  • In another pot, get water to a gentle boil. Put the brown rice and let it cook until soft. Strain the rice and let it cool completely. 
  • In the final step, mix chicken, veggies and rice together and serve it to your dog. 

Recipe 3


  1. Protein (1 pound turkey)
  2. mix vegetables (16 ounces of broccoli/carrots/cauliflower)
  3. Carbs (2 cups of brown rice)   


  • Take 1 pound of ground turkey, 2 cups of brown rice, and 6 cups of water. 
  • Add all these in a pot and start cooking until the turkey is broken and evenly distributed into small pieces. Then, take it out of the heat and let it cool. 
  • Add 16 ounces of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower into the pot filled with enough water. Cook the veggies on a rolling boil under the tender. Let it cool. 
  • Combine veggies with protein and rice and serve. 


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Is a Homemade Dog Diet The Right Choice for Your Pet?

Homemade dog food is the right choice if you have time to prepare it. By cooking the food for your dog, you can make sure that the ingredients are fresh and of high quality. 

In addition, you have the opportunity to bond with your dog. You can also serve what your dog likes if it is a picky eater. 

What Are The Benefits of Homemade Dog Food?

#1 All the ingredients are fresh and of high quality.
#2 You can control the nutrients as per your dog’s requirement
#3 Helps you bond with your dog
#4 If your dog is a picky eater, you can serve what it likes to east

Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Dog Food?

Making your dog’s food at home is a lot cheaper than buying it from the market. Most of the ingredients that are required to make an excellent dog meal are already in your refrigerator, such as veggies. 

For the occasional meat servings, you can buy cheaper cuts from your butcher. Even the organs work best for dog food. Organs such as intestines, stomach, tongue, heart, and liver can be used to make dog meals. 

Hence, it gets a lot cheaper if you are preparing your dog food at home.

Is It Necessary to Add Supplements to The Homemade Dog Food?

There is no need to add supplements to the homemade dog food. If you have done your research and are serving a balanced diet to your dog, there is no need to add supplements to the home-cooked dog meals. 

Can I Feed My Dog Chicken and Rice Every Day?

Yes, you can feed your dog chicken and rice every day, but this shouldn’t be the only thing that your dog is getting. 

Chicken is a protein source, and rice fulfills carbs needs. But, in addition to proteins and carbs, your dog needs vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that should also be included in the diet. 

So, do feed chicken and rice but add different veggies as well.


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Home cooking for dogs is easy and therapeutic. It has many benefits for your dog that have been discussed in great detail in this topic. 

Thank you for reading this article to the end. I am sure all of your questions regarding home cooking for dogs have been answered.

That being said, there is nothing left but to thank you for your attention up to this point.

I hope I have been helpful, and I wish you many moments of joy and satisfaction in the company of your beloved dog. If you still have any query, do let me know. 

Until next time!

Good luck!

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Housam Ayouni
Housam Ayouni

I am a professional in the field of canine behavior and care with many years of experience. Through my dog blog, which has reached over one million dog owners, I offer practical tips and guidance to support dog owners in creating strong, positive relationships with their pets and promoting the well-being and happiness of all dogs. My goal is to help dog owners create a harmonious and fulfilling life with their furry companions.

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